Posted February 23, 2009on:
Review and Ramblings on Cool Zone
With Illustrations by James Stevenson
Delacorte Press, 2008
One of the coolest things about writer Judy Blume is that she gets what it’s like to be a kid and puts it right into her stories. I just read Cool Zone and I could definitely relate to Abigail who calls her brother, ‘The Pain’. I had a royal pain in my life growing up too, but instead of a brother it was my little sister. Let’s just call her The Little Princess. She was crafty, calculating and sometimes just doggone mean.
One day we were playing with Mom’s button box, a red lacquered, open square piece that we both loved. It was brimming with buttons of every color and kind. I’m sure I didn’t do anything wrong, but without warning my sister gave me a smirky-evil look, dumped the buttons all over the floor and simultaneously let out a ear-piercing wail. My jaw dropped as I realized too late the ingenious torment she had cooked up for me. Mom came running, saw Little Sis crying, the buttons scattered, me with a deer-in-the-headlights look and well . . . you guessed it. I got yelled at, had to pick up all the buttons by myself and The Little Princess got cuddled by Mom. She proved that day that it didn’t matter how old I was, the three years between us would never be enough to protect me from her powers.
Even if you don’t have a brother or a sister I think you will like Cool Zone by Judy Blume. Abigail (her brother calls her The Great One) and Jacob (The Pain) get into some funny messes at home and at school. Abigail is not above dealing her brother out of half his tooth fairy money and Jacob teases his sister unmercifully when she decides to change her name to Violet Rose. Hey, my little sister has changed her name so many times that nobody in the family knows what to call her!
The coolest thing about the illustrations in this book is that they look like you could have done them yourself. I mean it, take a look. You have to be a pretty good illustrator to make people think that. My favorite is the picture of Jacob using the blow dryer on his soggy-eared elephant stuffy, Bruno. But I think Mr. Stevenson missed the mark on page 31. The bus windows are all wrong. They look like house windows. Okay, I can’t exactly say how they need to change. We didn’t have a school bus in my town. I had to walk and I had to hold my sister’s hand too!
Another thing to like about Judy Blume’s books is that the kids get to work out their own problems. Oh, there is an occasional word from Mom or Dad, but for the most part The Pain and The Great One find their own way to a good ending. Just like me and The Little Princess, who is now my best friend forever.
Have you heard about NAARF? It is one scary place.
Soon you and your friends will be able to read all about it, when it shows up in my new book series, Runt Farm.